Hi, it is Tuesday evening and I just got back from the village of Chawama, where we officially began our large task of Orphan Sponsorship Updates. Throughout our time here in Zambia, we will continue to do orphan updates, providing information for EOH and also the children’s sponsors. A typical child update includes information such as this:
-In school? If so, what grade? Good marks? What are you learning about?
-Attending Church? If so, what church?
-Family & Home situation
-Experience and favorite memory from Camp Hope
-Has the sponsorship been a blessing to you? Your family?
Then we have the children either draw a picture (younger children) or write a few lines or sentences to their sponsor (older ones). We also take a few photos for the sponsor and documentation purposes.
So, we began in Chawama where there are 32 children that are sponsored. The sponsored children in Chawama are spread over a distance of 15 kilometers. Part of Every Orphan’s Hope includes OVC councilors (volunteers for the ministry) that live in the same communities as the children. They invest much into these children, visiting them often to check up on them. They are very much the link between the children and the EOH staff. So today, a very beautiful woman named Gloria was the OVC councilor that we worked with. My group visited four homes, where we were able to find three of the sponsored children.
Hmm, trying to find words to explain all that my eyes saw today, all that my ears heard, all that my hands touched….is very difficult. The beauty of this place astounds me - not so much the beauty, but the beauty amongst the disaster. My mind races as I try to think of a way to describe these two contradicting realities as one. I suppose I will just write about each child a bit and share a bit of my thoughts, and hopefully by that, precious reality will be revealed a bit.
The first child that we visited was a six year old child named Priscilla. She is absolutely beautiful. She attended Camp Hope in Chawama last year and is just now beginning her sponsorship. So far, her family has received some food, and the sponsorship has really served as an encouragement. While we were visiting Priscilla, she was very shy as she answered the questions we asked. She giggled when I traced her hand on the paper and she smiled when I said “Seca” which means “Cheese/Smile” when taking her picture. As we left, we were able to share with her that we came to reflect the Lord’s love for her. She smiled and told us that she knew that Jesus loves her. This was wonderful! We left knowing that the Lord truly has blessed this small child.
The next home we visited, was the home of a 15 year old girl named Sarah. She was not home at the time, but we were able to talk some with her mother. Sarah is very smart but because of health complications, she has been unable to complete grade 5. Sarah has Sickle Cell Disease. In talking with Sarah’s mother Bridget, we were informed that Sarah’s father has passed away. Soon her mother will be leaving with her stepfather and Sarah will live with her cousins. Her mother said she does not like her stepfather. Her mother has chosen to go with Sarah’s step father, rather than her. I cannot imagine how that feels.
The next sponsored child was a 18 year old boy named Joseph. Joseph actually came straight from a funeral today, so I felt very bad coming into his home. He was very eager to talk to us, although I could tell that he was grieving. He shared with us that he has completed grade 9 but his family cannot afford to put in into grade 10. He is upset, but feels nothing more can be done. He is grateful for his sponsorship, and prays that it continues. When asking Joseph about his future, he said he dreams to be a lawyer. He wants to complete university. This is incredible. A child with a dream, amongst all odds against him. The Lord will provide.
The last child that we visited today was a six year old little girl named Hilda. Oh, what a sweet child. She comes from a home with a mother and three siblings. While we were visiting in her home, there were two other children that were staying there. An image that will not leave my mind: one of these little children, roughly 5 or 6 years old, was cutting vegetables with a very sharp knife. As I watched her little hands, and the blade of the knife touch the pad of her fingers, I could not help but wonder if these children here ever experience true childhood. They are forced to grow up so fast. Whether it is cooking or having a 4 year old carry their smaller siblings all day on their backs with Chitanges (waxed African material used for various tasks) , or seeing children carrying buckets of water that weigh twice as much as they do- it breaks my heart. To see what they go through, to see what they miss- I cannot quite imagine. Just though as I speak of these orphans and what they are missing, I also know that these children in some respects, have it way better than even I did. Not in any physical manner of course, however, these children are also dependent on one thing; Jesus Christ. Their joy comes from the Lord, little things, big things. I wish that you could see the looks on their faces when you look directly at them and greet them with “Ulibwenji” They scream. They laugh. They run in circles. They are so completely honored. We had bubbles today. I’ve never witnessed children go so crazy over something so simple. Sometimes I question where could those smiles possibly come from? They have nothing, no one, and no way out. Then it hits me, these children are rich in the Love of Christ. Richer than any other. They are so fully dependent on Him, it humbles me greatly. To hear 6 year old children say that they treasure the word of the Lord, is incredible. To feel the touch of a little hand in my own, and see even just a small, timid smile, it amazes me. The Lord has hold of Zambia.
Overall, my experience in Chawamawa was precious. I am left with many things to ponder. Images of some children running as fast as they can to us, in hopes that they will just get to touch my skin, and then images of other children freezing right where they are, and when I draw one step closer, they flee. I am deeply saddened, not by pride of course, but by the fact that these children do not believe that they are even worthy to be seen by me as a white American. I am terrified to think that this is what some of the children grow up learning and believing. It hurts.
Leaving Chawama today, we caught a bus back. We had to transfer at the bus station which if anyone knows Zambia at all, they know that it is complete chaos and insanity, haha. As we were transferring, many crazy things happened. I will refrain from sharing, due to the fact that if my parents and grandparents are reading, they’d worry a bit more (haha, love you mom and dad, gram and grams…all is well, I promise )
It was quite hilarious though when I had already been seated on the bus by the window, and a man came up and tried to sell me a newspaper (it is frequent in Zambia to have vendors along the streets and stations, selling various things ). Anyways, so I began talking to him, and made it clear to him that I did not want a newspaper. After a while of him just sticking around talking to me I said jokingly, “Haven’t you understood me? I do not want to buy a newspaper from you.” He said then, laughing, “No no no! I am not trying to sell you a newspaper. Have I tried to sell it to you more than the first time I asked? You are wrong, I’m not interested to sell a newspaper, I’m interested in you.” I just started laughing hysterically. Then about two minutes later, our bus still had not taken off yet, one of his friends came up to the window and began talking to him, in Njinga. I couldn’t understand, however, after they were laughing he tapped my arm and said, “He, takes you. Me, I take your friend.” Mary Leslie and I just laughed. Then Mary Leslie said, “We don’t even know you!” His response resembled something like this, “How could you expect to know me? It’s only the first day!” Yes yes, okay so you get it….it was hilarious. Mary Leslie and I have been reliving this all evening!
We did indeed make it back to the EOH office safely. We were pretty tired, but still had some work to do. Some of the gang went to get groceries for the evening, and the rest of us stuck around at the office till they got back.
When we got home, I cleaned up a bit and spent some time outside alone. I find that the Zambian sky is more beautiful than any sky I have ever seen…..I cannot help but praise the Lord for His glorious artwork.
Just as dinner was about ready, I got word that one of the interns was having a health issue, so I decided that I better go check to see if things were okay. I was able to give her some care, however, Paul and Kim saw it necessary to take her to the Hospital here. So, they sent me with. Haha…oh this is a good story.
We get there and she gets right in. We are the only ones. Mama, Me, and Paul went with her, and Mama and I stayed out in the waiting room. After about five minutes all of the sudden, the power went out and sirens starting going crazy. I put my hand to my face and I couldn’t even see it because it was so dark. I couldn’t see where Mama was, somewhere in the lobby or waiting room. Just as reality hit me and I wanted Mama to hold me (I am in a hospital, in Zambia, with one of my friends being seen, and the power just went out) she called and said, “Sophie dear, come here.” I followed her voice and sat down next to her. She put her arm around me. We waited for about 15 minutes, and then the generator came on. We then waited about 15 more minutes, and then the doctors were done with my friend.
We went back home. Grant had spent a long time preparing dinner, and the rest of the team had already eaten, so we sat down and ate. By 8:30 at night, I was so hungry. It was lovely. Also, he had purchased some Choc-Its (THE BEST African cookies ever!) which was a nice surprise.
Afterwards, I got ready for bed and began writing some. A few minutes later, my friend’s health issue became worked up again, so I spent about another hour helping her. It really was a blessing for me to serve her in this way.
We all began to pray as well. It was wonderful, claiming Victory in Christ. We prayed against Satan’s attack. What an awesome experience.
Bed time. The end. I love it here!